Cancer: What to Ask Your Doctor

A cancer diagnosis can be hard to process at first. You may feel shock, anger, or even disbelief. But as a cancer patient, you are an equal partner with your doctor in your treatment and recovery. The more you understand what your body is going through, the better prepared you are to take care of yourself and make the big decisions necessary for your recovery.

So don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you have about your diagnosis or treatment. Helping you understand your cancer is part of their job. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some recommended questions to ask about your cancer to get you started:


Understand Your Diagnosis

  • What type of cancer do I have?
  • Where is my cancer?
  • Has my cancer spread in my body? Where did it start?
  • What stage of cancer do I have?
  • How do I get a copy of my pathology report?
  • What are my odds for survival, as far as you can tell?
  • How can I reach you if I have questions later?


Understand Your Options

  • What is your experience treating the kind of cancer that I have?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Will I need additional testing before we can determine the best treatment?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • What are the advantages and risks of this treatment?
  • Should I consider joining a clinical trial?
  • How can I learn more about clinical trials?


Understand Your Treatment

  • What is the goal for my treatment? Are we curing my cancer or controlling my symptoms?
  • Will additional specialists be involved with my treatment? Who will be in charge of my treatment plan?
  • What drugs will I be on? What will each of them do for me?
  • Will I need any additional drugs or other treatments?
  • What potential risks or side effects are associated with these drugs and/or treatments?
  • What side effects should I report immediately, should I experience them?
  • What should I do to prepare for treatment? Are there foods I should avoid? What about alcohol?
  • What changes should I expect to make to my day-to-day life? Can I exercise during treatment? Can I go to work?
  • How frequently will I need treatments? How long will each treatment last? How long will I need treatments for?
  • How will we know if the treatment is effective?
  • How likely is it that my cancer will recur?
  • How much will my treatment cost? How much will my insurance cover?


As a cancer patient, you play an active role in your fight to recovery. The better you understand your diagnosis and treatment, the better you can care for yourself during this time. So take an active role in your recovery and ask your doctor any question you have—it’s what they’re there for!